Parents are sometimes a bit of a disappointment to their children. They don’t fulfil the promise of their early years. ~ Anthony Powell
This opening quote is a bit harsh but I could not help feeling it was apt for this post. On my way to work today I was listening to one of the more popular breakfast shows on radio. They were discussing eating disorders in children. The debate branched out to whether black children succumb to such conditions and to matters of self-esteem. I was deeply moved by some of the calls that came in.
In the few African cultures I know enough to comment about (there are so many tribes in Africa as a whole I dare not generalise) a lot of conditions that western culture might more easily recognise as a medical issue are not recognised as such. This includes eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia, psychological issues like low self-esteem and depression in children etc. You are generally expected to buck up and deal with it. Sometimes it works but we fail those for whom it does not work.
One girl called in to say her 11 year old brother is bulimic. He is the last born child. He makes himself throw up everything he eats. The other siblings have told their mother this in an effort to help him. The siblings are much older. They suggested he get professional help. Their mother said there is no such thing and he is just stupid. His sister thinks his bulimia is the result of endless teasing because he is the chubbiest of his friends. A few of his friends have “model-like” looks and he wants to look like them. Their mother is convinced if they ignore it will go away.
As if to give a look into the future of this boy, the next call was from a 30 year old woman. As she explained it, she is “the ugly duckling” in her family. One can’t help but wonder where she got that phrase from. she was the chubbiest of 4 sisters and had the darkest skin. She was teased relentlessly as a child and was often told she was not as pretty as her sisters. She started trying to lose weight at 9 years of age. She would take laxatives until it came to a point where they didn’t work on her anymore “I could feel my stomach was running but nothing was coming out.” Then she moved on to making herself throw up until that didn’t work anymore.Now she eats excessive amounts of food or drinks a large quantity of milk to make herself throw up. Despite all of this, she is still  “fat” and feels “ugly.” When she first started dating she would get so upset when her boyfriend told her she was beautiful because she felt he was mocking her. The presenter asked if she has considered seeing a shrink. She said she would rather not because she doesn’t want to deal with the stigma associated with it or to be told things she doesn’t want to hear.
How can we say we have not failed this woman. She was failed as a child. As parents, our duty is to build our children up. The impact of loving parents on a child’s life is immeasurable. We are charged with moulding a little human’s life. To build them by encouraging them, weeding out the bad habits, teaching them manners, teaching them to love themselves in a healthy way, helping them build healthy self-esteem, letting ourselves be their place of safety. We are charged with helping them build their foundation. The basis from which they will grow forever.
I know we are busy trying to provide for these children. It’s so hard to be stretched so far…..especially for mothers and single dads but we need to prioritise our children.
Busy Mom With Child And Pets Clip Art
Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation ~ C. Everet Koop, M.D.

Take time out to talk to your children. Find out what your child is thinking about, stressing about, enjoying, hating, loving. Watch their favourite show with them. Love is in taking a minute out of your busy day to hug them long and hard. Sometimes love is in the showing and not in the telling because before we know it, that foundation will be dry and we will wonder who created these little monsters or that bundle of insecurities.
Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children. ~ Charles R. Swindoll